What better way to close out a busy National Honey Month than with a cocktail! Particularly, a Bee's Knees. With only three ingredients (gin, honey syrup and lemon juice), this cocktail's recipe may be simple, but its history is complex.
A Bee's Knees is classified as a Prohibition Cocktail, meaning it was a drink invented and favored in the 1920s when drinking was illegal. Gin is the base spirit, and since producing alcohol was illegal, people and speakeasies went to great lengths to hide their distilling efforts. Homemade spirits, such as gin, were often topped off with water from the bathtub tap, hence the name bathtub gin.
As you can imagine, these homemade spirits were often pretty terrible and needed to be made into a cocktail to make them palatable. In the case of the Bee's Knees, honey syrup and lemon juice were used to mask the off flavors of the gin.
This 100-year-old cocktail has survived and thrived thanks to its perfect balance of honey simple syrup and lemon juice. Not too sweet, not too sour…just perfect. Combined with the floral notes of gin and you have a bright, refreshing cocktail to be enjoyed year-round, and especially the last week of September.
Our friends at Caledonia Spirits launched Bee's Knees Week last year to call attention to the importance of honey bees to our food and beverage system. During the week, participating bars and restaurants across the country will be serving Bee's Knees cocktails and donating a portion of their profits to organizations that support the health of the honey bee industry.
This year's Bee's Knees Week is September 24-30, which is the perfect close to a busy National Honey Month. Caledonia Spirits has created a map of all participating venues where you can have a great cocktail while helping honey bees.
If there is not a participating establishment near you, make a Bee's Knees at home following this recipe.
Bee's Knees Recipe
Provided by Caledonia Spirits
To a shaker filled with ice, add gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.
*Create a 2:1 honey syrup by mixing one cup of honey with a half-cup of water. Heat gently in a saucepan until the honey blends in with the water. Chill in the refrigerator before using.